redefining marriage

Utah’s Opposition To Killing DOMA Stems From Some Major Polygamy Bitterness

Arguing against the federal court in Boston striking down part of DOMA, conservative columnist Cal Thomas reveals he’s still hung up on the Supreme Court’s 1878 ruling banning polygamy.

If state law gets to trump federal wishes when it comes to marriage, as Judge Joseph L. Tauro decided, how can anyone sit idly by while the 132-year-old decision in Reynolds v. United States gets ignored? Not Thomas!

A New York Times editorial says of DOMA, “There is no rational basis for discriminating against same-sex couples.” Really? Has the newspaper forgotten the federal government’s “discrimination” against Utah when it forbade the territory from entering the Union until it outlawed polygamy?

In 1878, the Supreme Court declared in Reynolds v. United States that polygamy was not protected by the Constitution.

If the federal government could reject polygamy then as a means of promoting the general welfare, why can’t it block attempts to redefine marriage now? If marriage is redefined by courts, what is to stop anyone from declaring a “right” to any relationship they wish to enter and demanding “equal protection” under the Constitution?

I think we can all agree the answer to that question is: Nothing! Well, except for the financial burden of taking one of these CLEARLY FRIVOLOUS LAWSUITS all the way to the Supreme Court.

[Salt Lake Tribune]

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  • Cam

    Why is it all these anti-gay male bigots look like somebody’s old auntie who has a second place ribbon from the county fair pie bake-off in 1985?

    As for the argument with Polygamy…easy, polygamy isn’t between two consenting adults, especially how it was practiced in Utah. You will hear Mormons lying and making up a ridiculous story about how hardly anybody was polygamous and they only were because many men died on the trip out to Utah so their wives married other men as a way of support.

    they seem to forget that their leader had over 20 wives before they left on the trip including one who was 14 years old. The U.S. Federal Govt. at that time recognized that as it was practiced at that time, it put women in such a position of servitude that it was even unacceptable to the Supreme court in a time before major movement on women’s rights.

  • Cynthia

    I hate to side with a bigot but he is right.
    If the fed has the right to ban one form of marriage it may also ban other forms.

    We need marriage equality on a federal level. Not piecemeil state by state.

  • Baxter

    The government should get out of the marriage game altogether and just hand out civil unions to any couple that wants one, gay or straight. The churches could then handle marriage again and decide what rules they want to put in place for them. Marriage wouldn’t confer any state or federal rights or privileges; it would be a purely religious thing. Mormons could recognize polygamous marriages. Catholics could choose not to recognize divorces. Gay couples would have the same rights as straight couples. Everybody wins.

  • Disgusted Gay American

    the gov’t will NEVER get out of marriage in our lifetime…so it’s a waste of time and space to even mention that alternative….gays are ONLY asking for the same rights as str8’ marry one person/consenting NON-related adult….if the mormons want to Fight for Polygamy,let’m – it’s thier fight…it has NOTHING to do with Marriage Equality!

  • hardvice

    He’s kind of right in one respect: Reynolds was a monstrously awful decision, like many of the late 1800s, that bent and twisted the Constitution beyond recognition to such an extent that we’re still paying the price.

    That said, two wrongs don’t make a right. Marriage has always been a matter of state sovereignty, into which the federal government, Reynolds aside, has no explicit Constitutional authority to intrude provided any given state’s rules don’t themselves violate the Constitution.

    And that’s where the issues diverge. While Utah should have had the right to define marriage as it chose, the Constitution itself doesn’t *compel* any state to recognize polygamy. On the other hand, states certainly have the right to allow same-sex marriage, and may well be compelled to do so.

    Banning polygamy merely defines marriage as a two-party contract. No suspect class is involved. Banning same-sex marriage, however, restricts freedom of contract on the basis of gender — a man can contract with a woman but not a man, and vice-versa. It is a gender-based restriction (read: suspect class) on freedom of contract (read: fundamental right), and thus violates the 14th Amendment unless it satisfies heightened scrutiny.

  • Gorbeh

    Inbred Moron! I mean Mormon…

    In all actuality polygamy is a lot different than a monogamous gay or straight marriage. When there are two married people both have certain privileges when it comes to taxes and many other things. If you add a third person do they get those same privileges? What about a fourth? Or fifth? Sixth? Essentially it creates of new class of polygamists which is slightly better off than just a couple of two which is unequal.

    Polygamy has too many chances to abuse the system, and judging from how the Morons already have abused their money (TAX THEM!) giving them something else to abuse isn’t going to be a good thing.

    Plus, if their excuse is not enough men then that is a bigger argument for incest than any gay marriage argument. Hello, if you have four breeders knocking up eight women each then that is 8 times as many people sharing the same genes and who are those babies going to marry when they grow up since the gene pool is so much more limited? This just in, Morons are incestuous!

  • hardvice

    @Baxter: This is what we already have. A civil marriage is not necessarily a religious marriage, and vice-versa.

    The fact that the word “marriage” is used for both the social institution and the legal institution matters not. They’re two separate things, and always have been.

  • Cam

    @Cynthia: said…

    I hate to side with a bigot but he is right.
    If the fed has the right to ban one form of marriage it may also ban other forms.

    We need marriage equality on a federal level. Not piecemeil state by state.

    Your comment is like saying that since the govt. bans rape that it must also ban consensual sex.

    Polygamy as practiced in Utah was not between consenting adults, it was used to subjugate women, it was not a form of marriage it was a form of indentured servitude. the Mormons can try to pretend that there are similarities, but as a group they have ALWAYS been on the side of bigotry and oppression. Whether it was supporting their form of Polygamy, fighting against w omen’s voting rights, not allowing blacks membership in their church until around 1980, and only then because of extremely bad P.R. or still trumpeting today the fact that they were instrumental in the defeat of the Equal rights Amendment. They have 100% of the time ALWAYS been on the side of bigotry. If they are opposed to something you can usually assume that it is because it is allowing a freedom of some sort to somebody.

  • Desdemona

    Being gay is not a choice. It is clearly a choice to take more than one wife. Case closed!

  • B

    QUEERTY’s title is all wrong – Cal Thomas has nothing to do with Utah. He was born in Washington D.C. and attended the American University. He worked at NBC, Fox. He lives in or near Washington D.C. (according to a link from his web site).

  • hyhybt

    No, the government cannot (or at least ought not) switch to civil-unions-only for everyone, unless that’s just another term for legal marriage in which case there’s no point in making the change.

    For starters, only marriage is portable internationally.

  • Clint

    “The government should get out of the marriage game altogether and just hand out civil unions to any couple that wants one..”

    That reminds me of schools who get rid of proms all together when gay couples want to attend.

  • Michael Ejercito

    Cal Thomas is incorrect about the reasoning behind Reynolds.

    Reynolds did not cite the general welfare. This was the reasoning used to uphold the law against a First Amendment challenge:

    “Polygamy has always been odious among the northern and western nations of Europe, and, until the establishment of the Mormon Church, was almost exclusively a feature of the life of Asiatic and of African people. At common law, the second marriage was always void (2 Kent, Com. 79), and from the earliest history of England, polygamy has been treated as an offence against society.”

    “Congress, in 1862 (12 Stat. 501), saw fit to make bigamy a crime in the Territories. This was done because of the evil consequences that were supposed to flow from plural marriages. All the court did was to call the attention of the jury to the peculiar character of the crime for which the accused was on trial, and to remind them of the duty they had to perform.”

    And from Davis v. Beason:

    “It was never intended that the first Article of Amendment to the Constitution, that “Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” should be a protection against legislation for the punishment of acts inimical to the peace, good order and morals of society.”

    “To extend exemption from punishment for such crimes would be to shock the moral judgment of the community. ”

    The real kicker is Murphy v. Ramsey, which was cited in Davis v. Beason:

    “Certainly no legislation can be supposed more wholesome and necessary in the founding of a free, self-governing commonwealth, fit to take rank as one of the coordinate states of the union, than that which seeks to establish it on the basis of the idea of the family, as consisting in and springing from the union for life of one man and one woman in the holy estate of matrimony; the sure foundation of all that is stable and noble in our civilization; the best guaranty of that reverent morality which is the source of all beneficent progress in social and political improvement. And to this end, no means are more directly and immediately suitable than those provided by this act, which endeavors to withdraw all political influence from those who are practically hostile to its attainment.”

    Unlike Minor v. Happersett and Dred Scott v. Sanford, no constitutional amendments were ratified to undercut the holdings of the cases that I mentioned.

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